While many of us were celebrating the holidays with loved ones, there were soldiers overseas protecting us, allowing those special holiday moments to transpire. Recently, numerous organizations came together to spearhead exoskeleton technology for soldiers during an intensive Operations and Maneuver and Technology interchange meeting.
The User Technical Touch Point-Exoskeleton event was a three day, hands-on affair that offered an interactive forum for operational and technology immersion on both infantry maneuvers and technology demonstrations. Observers were taken around by Military Operational Specialties (MOS’s) to show what an average day on the job requires.
Specific subject interviews and operational vignettes provided context regarding the physiological and cognitive demanding infantry tasks, before, during, and after operations. Requirement developers, engineers, and vendors then discussed what the exoskeleton market was and was not, demystifying the Hollywood so called, “iron man” effect with a focus on real-time products including: the Dephy Exo Boot and Lockheed Martin’s ONYX.
Soldiers in attendance were encouraged to don the systems to experience firsthand the endurance improvement, mobility, and lethality benefits. Those who participated commented on how it felt to wear the exoskeleton as well as the connectivity between user and system. The feedback provided by the soldiers will aid developers in prioritizing modifications to the system in preparation for a Fall 2019 VIP demonstration.
James Mingo, a senior military analyst at TRADOC says, “The importance of this User Touch Point event was two-fold: it gave those involved in developing this technology the ability to better understand the physical aspects of the tasks and duties of the Soldiers and gain an understanding of the Soldier’s perspective in how this capability can be of value.” Participants noted the flexibility of the system and how well it adjusted from person to person over three days of use. Soldiers emphasized the impending value of an exoskeleton or similar exoskeleton-like system which would deliver enhanced endurance during operations, resulting in a positive impact on lethality and combat effectiveness.
Raul Esteras-Palos, the Robotics Requirements Division, Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, or CDID, Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE states, “It provided hand-on experience to the Movement and Maneuver Soldiers of some of the top seven combat MOS’s. This event is an effective way to gain valuable feedback necessary for the advancement of the Army’s exoskeleton program.”
For soldiers, further endurance equates to amplified lethality and overall body health within stressful work environments. The medical community is well versed in the numerous injuries our soldiers face during any kind of operation. Those who tried the exoskeleton were quick to discuss injuries related to both training and combat conditions, injuries which would potentially be prevented from systems like the exoskeleton.
“Major General Piatt, CG 10th MTN DIV’s support has allowed us to tap into the expert knowledge of some of the most experienced Army professionals of our Nation,” says David Audet, branch chief, Mission Equipment and Systems Branch at the RDECOM Soldier Center. “This was a unique opportunity for developers and engineers. We are indebted to the troops for their selfless service and owe them the opportunity to listen to their concerns and take action.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense